Can Facebook be Made to Care?
Lately, there has been a great deal of controversy about Facebook. It’s posing danger to teenagers. It’s spreading misinformation. And it doesn’t care! It’s putting profits before concern for the effects of its actions!
Should Facebook be broken up? Should there be rules about what can be posted or who can post? What’s the right amount of government intervention?
I don’t know what the solution is for Facebook. But here is what I know: you cannot legislate compassion and caring.
I support the idea that there should be rules protecting people from certain kinds of harm. I am for seatbelts. I am for safety standards in construction of buildings and cars. I am for customer protection from predatory lending. And so on.
But we all know examples when there are rules and still unscrupulous individuals and companies usually manage to find loopholes.
Some of the recent examples: Volkswagen’s fuel efficiency standards, opioid crisis, Bernie Madoff…
What is the solution? Should we abandon efforts to regulate industries and activities? Should profits and success rule? Success, profit and caring are not mutually exclusive.
But regulations obviously are not sufficient to make people care. What is missing?
From my experience, what is missing is the activity of the limbic system. Our limbic systems are our Emotional Brains. Our Emotional Brains are there to create relationships and to care about others.
My experience taught me that when people have enough brain cells in their Emotional Brains, they AUTOMATICALLY care and their decisions include concern for others.
Since you cannot legislate compassion and caring, the only solution is to develop more brain cells in our Emotional Brains.
We see the Emotional Brain in action in small children, at the time when their limbic systems are developing. They will often try to comfort a parent or another child if they seem upset. We see that in many grownups who go out of their ways to help others and even sacrifice their lives for them.
I heard of a woman in Japan, who was selling candles when power went out after a natural disaster. She was selling them at their regular price. Someone asked why she hadn’t raised the price because of demand. She said: “why would I want to make more money from this disaster?”
Notice that she was selling, not giving them away. She was taking care of herself and her business. She just didn’t want to make more money if people were going to get hurt.
Can this kind of attitude be cultivated and developed? Even in individuals who don’t seem to care?
I know of programs that successfully re-educated perpetrators of violence and helped them develop compassion for their victims. With the right method, it can be done. It just takes time and effort.
I don’t work with perpetrators but I also know from my experience that the Emotional Brain can be developed because I have done it with my clients, using my own method.
However, we cannot count on companies to be compassionate. Companies are legal structures and don’t have brains. But their owners and executives do.
Some already have their Emotional Brains developed – and that’s why we love their companies. We love spending money with them and we don’t mind supporting their profits.
The ones who don’t, maybe can be persuaded to try?
Even Jack Welch, who was known for his ruthless management practices, developed a more compassionate approach to leadership later in life.
Imagine a society where individuals and businesses know how to take care of themselves and yet spontaneously care about the outcomes of their actions and their effect on others.
I say, it’s worth a try.